A spectacularly historically inaccurate
movie about a mammoth-hunter named D'Leh, ostensibly set in the year 10,000 B.C. During a "great hunt" of a stampede of wooly mammoths, D'Leh appears
to slay a gigantic ultra-mammoth and is awarded his tribe's sacred artifact, the White Spear. This allows him to claim any woman in the tribe as his wife, and he chooses his childhood friend Evolet (who was originally from somewhere else, and found by the tribe wandering the tundra half-dead.) Then guilt over cheating causes him to give the spear back, angering said childhood friend.
Soon after, horsemen with swords
show up and kidnap many of the villagers, including D'Leh's girlfriend. He and the few surviving hunters set off on a quest to track down these raiders and get their families back.
After traversing some seriously weird terrains
, and having a few small adventures along the way, D'leh is separated from the rest of the party. He ends up at an agricultural village in a desert. There, he manages to impress the local chief, and makes friends with the natives. It turns out that this and many other villages have been victimized by the same raiders that kidnapped D'Leh's people, and taken to "the Mountain of the Gods." The chief somehow concludes that D'Leh is The Chosen One
who will overthrow the evil god who is doing this.
Soon after, all the desert tribes gather together to march towards the Mountain of the Gods (which turns out to be a gigantic and work-in-progress pyramid.) There, the prisoners are being used as slaves in a big construction job. The impromptu army attacks and triggers a slave uprising. D'Leh himself kills the false god who's running things, and everybody is freed.
The chief gives D'Leh some seeds, and instructions on how to farm. D'Leh, his wife, and those mammoth-people who remain return to their tundra home to rebuild.
One of the most infamous and blatant examples of Rule of Cool
in all of film history. Make sure to bring your MST3K Mantra
This film contains examples of:
- Ambiguous Time Period: The film appears to be set in the prehistoric times, with the main character encountering both a wooly mammoth and a saber tooth tiger. However, he ends up somewhere that appears to be ancient Egypt or at least Mesopotamia (an emperor is having a large pyramid built).
- Ancient Astronauts: Implied. The slaves tell Moa & Baku that The God of the Pyramid came down from the stars. Given the ridiculously advanced (for the setting) technology he and his servants use, they may well be right.
- Androcles' Lion: D'Leh and the giant sabretooth tiger.
- Artistic License – History: The movie probably isn't meant to evoke historical accuracy. Naming the movie on an actual prehistoric date was [more likely] done for promotional purposes.
- Atlantis: Another version of the God's origin story has him coming from a distant homeland that sank beneath the ocean.
- It seems to be his most plausible origin : in one scene, when Evolet is brought before the God, the camera focuses on some strangely detailed maps that are displaying a mass of land in the Atlantic Ocean, between South America and Africa.
- Barbarian Hero
- Black Speech: The "Egyptians".
- The Chosen One: Both D'Leh and Evolet.
- The Dog Bites Back: A subtle example, among the numerous people from disparate countries D'Leh brings with him to the pyramid include a group of giant African warriors. They all sneak in disguised as slaves and an overseer begins continuously whipping their leader, who just crouches down and takes it until D'Leh gives the signal, when he immediatly stands up to his full, seven-foot plus height, grabs the overseer by the throat and effortlessly hurls him off the pyramid to his death.
- Feathered Fiend: Terror birds.
- Genre Throwback: To One Million Years BC and other "prehistoric caveman adventures" films of the 50s, 60s, and 70s.
- If I Can't Have You: Being rejected by Evolet results in the warlord who kidnapped her to throw a spear into her back, seemingly killing her. He even tells D'Leh, in his own language, "You will not have her either" before being killed himself.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: The leader of the warlords grows an interest in Evolet, even buying her to keep her, though his master was not pleased.
- Inertial Impalement: This is how D'Leh kills the mammoth. When his spear gets stuck in the ground, he runs away, leading the beast to impale itself. He also does it to the terrorbirds, this time intentional.
- Light Is Not Good / Order Versus Chaos: The false god wears white and is charismatic enough to build a civilization around him. And then the good guys come around and destroy the civilization he formed. Seems like an inverse version of the order/light against chaos/darkness more often present.
- Meaningful/Sdrawkcab Name: "D'Leh" is "Held" backwards; "Held" means "Hero" in German/Dutch. And apparently the woman is named Evolet. Telove. The love. Dang, they named her after her role.
- Medieval Prehistory: Mammoths, saber-toothed cats and terror birds along with a horse-riding, pyramid-building culture.
- Mighty Whitey: The quasi-African tribesmen living in the desert have a prophecy that "one day the one will come who will free our people". And that one is D'Leh. Obviously, they just can't do it themselves.
- Misplaced Vegetation: Film Brain notices that the area transitions from the Brazilian rain forests to the South Chinese tropical forest when one of the terror birds chases the hero into an area populated with bamboo. However it could have been a Dan Browned on his part as there are species of bamboo that do grow in Latin America. On the other hand, the African village elder giving the hero a handful of corn to take back and grow in his tribe is an example of this trope, as maize originated from Central Mexico, not Africa. In addition, while it would have been a fairly good idea to use this as a secret historical phenomenon lost to history where Native Americans received the corn and used it as the major staple of their diet as a result of this leader's gift to the hero (as implausible as it may sound), it has already been established according to documentation All There in the Manual that D'Leh and Evolet came from the Ural Moutains of Western Russia, making the idea impossible.
- Misplaced Wildlife: Wooly mammoths helped build the pyramids. Never mind that they're woolly mammoths and thus should be somewhere cold. Which Egypt isn't.
- Also, the Sabre Tooth in Africa. Sure, some species of Sabre-Toothed Cats did live in Africa, however the species featured in the film is clearly a Smilodon, which only ranged from North and South America.
- Assuming that Word of God is correct and this takes place in South America, everything is misplaced. Even the terror birds (the last known to date are from Florida; some possible fossils come from the late Pleistocene of Paraguay, but it's not entirely certain).
- Panthera Awesome: A giant sabre-toothed cat.
- Physical God: Except he isn't.
- Rule of Cool: One of Roland Emmerich's many specialties.
- Trailers Always Lie: The confrontation with the Smilodon is featured heavily. It gets stuck in a pit that's filling with water. D'leh says to it "Do not eat me after I free you!". He frees it, then it goes off on its way.
- Villainous Crush: The warlord leader of the four horsemen falls for Evolet and buys her to make her his lover, even kidnapping her from D'Leh near the end. Of course, when he realizes she doesn't want him he throws a spear into her back, killing her before D'Leh kills him.